Seal of the month


Ii6 173 1







New finds/Seals not in the CMS

Unparalleled find in Pylos!


New Publications

Rethemiotakis 2016–17 ...


Other News

Lecture on seal-use in the context of house societies ...



New publications

Rethemiotakis, Giorgos. 2016–17. The >Divine Couple< ring from Poros and the origins of the Minoan calendar. AM 131–32, 2016–17 (2017), 1–29.

From the abstract: The Minoan gold ring presented here was found in a large rock-cut tomb at Poros, Heraklion and dates to the LM IB period. The subject of the depiction, the >divine couple< is also known from other religious representations, specifically on rings in the form of the >Sacred Conversation<. Altogether novel in Minoan iconography, however, is the rendering of a group of five celestial ...



Stocker, Sharon R. – Jack L. Davis. 2017. The Combat Agate from the grave of the Griffin Warrior at Pylos. Hesperia 86, 583–605.

From the abstract: The Pylos Combat Agate, in our view a Cretan work of Late Minoan I, may be the finest example of glyptic art yet discovered in a Minoan or Mycenaean context. It was found in 2015 in the grave of the so-called Griffin Warrior at Pylos ...

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2017. Further seals from the cemetery at Petras. In: Metaxia Tsipopoulou (ed.),  Petras, Siteia, The Pre- and Proto-palatial cemetery in context. Acts of a two-day conference held at the Danish Institute at Athens, 14-15 February 2015. Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 21. Athens and Aarhus, 143–157.

Abstract (by Olga Krzyszkowska, from the introduction): Excavations carried out in the Petras cemetery between 2010 and 2014 have added a further 20 seals to those recovered in the 2005 and 2006 campaigns, already presented at the €first Petras symposium. In date the new seals range from EM II/III to LM III, with many attributable in stylistic terms to MM II. The earliest examples are two foot amulets — one engraved, one unfi€nished — recovered from a deposit underlying House Tomb 3. Other pre-palatial seals include a cube and a zoomorphic seal of bone, and three stamp cylinders of hippopotamus ivory. Regrettably all are in poor condition, though in broad terms they can be associated with central Cretan output of EM III–MM IA date. However, two of the cylinders found in House Tomb 5 seemingly bear hunting scenes, virtually unparalleled in the extant repertoire, and stylistically unique. Among the seals of MM II date, pride of place goes to a €fine silver ring with round bezel bearing a star motif, comparable to seal impressions from Vano 25 at Phaistos. Ornamental designs also occur on two cushions; one made of an attractive variegated jasper, the other of a strange hard stone with glassy inclusions. A petschaft  depicting a €fine lion regardant from House Tomb 10 Room 1 is apparently made from spondylus shell. The new seals of MM II date from Petras also include six three-sided prisms. One made of a pale carnelian or chalcedony bears hieroglyphic inscriptions on two faces. It was found in House Tomb 10, Room 1, as were two prisms made of a rare soft stone, reddish in colour, sometimes dubbed ‘pseudo-jasper’. Unusual stylistically, they are clearly from the same workshop, if not the same hand; one bears a short hieroglyphic inscription. More conventional is a prism of steatite from House Tomb 8, which clearly belongs to the large Malia–East Cretan Group. Two further prisms are related to this group in terms of motif, but differ in material; one made of a so€ whitish ‘paste’, the other conceivably bone. Two zoomorphic seals, both datable to MM II, are made of steatite and calcite. A rectangular seal of serpentine with centred circles on all six faces can be dated to LM III, and clearly belongs to a later use of the area. Although the new seals from Petras cannot match the masterpieces found in the 2005 and 2006 seasons they nevertheless augment signicantly the east Cretan glyptic repertoire. In motif, style and material all offer intriguing new insights into Prepalatial and Protopalatial seal engraving. However, while there is every possibility that some of these seals were made locally, in the absence of workshop material, the role of Petras as a production centre must still remain undefined.

For the book, see here.

Civitillo, Matilde. 2016. La scrittura geroglifica minoica sui sigilli. Il messaggio della glittica protopalaziale. Biblioteca di Pasiphae 12. Pisa/ Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore.

About (translated from the preface): The book of Matilde Civitillo deals with the complex question of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on seals and seals impressions. This is a topic that has been dealt with many times in the past . Some authors have suggested that the engraved characters on this type of support had an ornamental character. Civitillo demonstrates in an exemplary, rigorous and thorough study that the engraved inscriptions on seals are real texts destined to be read and understood. She comes to a conclusion of fundamental importance that allows the Aegean scripts research to make a decicive step by highlighting the similarities that existed between the Aegean culture and the contemporary cultures of Middle and Near East or the Nile valley, in which the script signs that were engraved on the seals were real inscriptions destined to transmit an unambiguous message in time and space. 

See also here.

Anderson, Emily S. K. 2016. Seals, Craft and Community in Bronze Age Crete. New York: Cambridge University Press.

About: Generations of scholars have grappled with the origins of 'palace' society on Minoan Crete, seeking to explain when and how life on the island altered monumentally. Emily Anderson turns light on the moment just before the palaces, recognizing it as a remarkably vibrant phase of socio-cultural innovation. Exploring the role of craftspersons, travelers and powerful objects, she argues that social change resulted from creative work that forged connections at new scales and in novel ways. This study focuses on an extraordinary corpus of sealstones which have been excavated across Crete. Fashioned of imported ivory and engraved with images of dashing lions, these distinctive objects linked the identities of their distant owners. Anderson argues that it was the repeated but pioneering actions of such diverse figures, people and objects alike, that dramatically changed the shape of social life in the Aegean at the turn of the second millennium BCE.

See also here.

Panagiotopoulos, Diamantis. 2014. Mykenische Siegelpraxis. Funktion, Kontext und administrative Verwendung mykenischer Tonplomben auf dem griechischen Festland und Kreta. Athenaia 5. München: Hirmer Verlag GmbH.

About: This study provides a detailed overview of Mycenaean seal practices and focuses on questions relating to the sealed objects, the types of impressed nodules, the administrative backround and the identity of the individuals who used seals in Mycenaean times. In this way it offers a comprehensive image of the parameters and practical modalities of the act of sealing in Mycenaean times.

See also here.

Anastasiadou, Maria. 2016. Drawing the line: Seals, script and regionalism in Protopalatial Crete. AJA 120.2, 159–193.

Summary: A boundary between eastern and central Crete has been proposed for the Protopalatial period on the basis of the distribution of various types of material culture, most notably pottery. The distribution of Protopalatial seal groups, the production of which can be localized to specific regions on the island, is here added to this discussion. Malia and eastern Crete show a preference for prismatic seals with hieroglyphs and pictographic images, whereas central Crete produces mainly seals of other shapes with round seal faces and ornamental motifs. Evidence from seals is discussed in conjunction with evidence for the earliest attestations of script in Crete.  From this perspective, a hypothesis is here suggested that, in contrast  to what  was previously thought, in Middle Minoan I/II Cretan Hieroglyphic was “at home” in Malia and the eastern part of the island, while Linear A was native in southern and possibly north-central Crete. In this context, the Hieroglyphic  Deposit of  Knossos is seen as intrusive in north-central Crete. This article explains the presence of Hieroglyphic documents at Knossos on the basis of theories that view the Minoan palaces as ritual centers potentially open to corporate groups from various regions on the island.

For online access, click here.

Athanasaki, Katerina. 2014. Γωνιές Μαλεβιζίου: Το πολιτισμικό τοπίο και οι διαδρομές του οφίτη στην εποχή του Χαλκού. CretChron 34, 219–229.

For online access, click here.

Dionisio, Giulia – Anna Margherita Jasink – Judith Weingarten. 2014. Minoan Cushion Seals. Innovation in Form, Style and Use in Bronze Age Glyptic. StArch 196. Rome: Lerma.

About: This book is about a single Minoan seal shape, the cushion seal - a rectangular stone with biconvex faces - so called because its profile resembles a cushion. This shape is specific to Minoan culture. The first securely-dated cushions appear in Middle Minoan IIB but its floruit is Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan IA, after which it essentially dies out. While in its early days, the materials, style, and motifs were similar to those of other seal shapes, it later developed a recognizable, perhaps semi-independent style and iconography of its own. Some of the finest examples of Minoan glyptic art appear on cushions. Who crafted them? Did they have any special meaning? Why did the shape disppear so abruptly? This book is the first to examine all aspects of cushion seals and to compare them with other contemporary forms of glyptic art. It aims to cast new light on style and form at the transition from the Protopalatial to early Neopalatial period on Crete.

For more information on the publication, click here

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2012. Seals from the Petras cemetery: a preliminary overview. In: Metaxia Tsipopoulou (ed.),  Petras, Siteia 25 Years of Excavations and Studies. Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 16. Athens, 145–160.

Summary: Excavations since 2005 have revealed important unplundered tombs in the vicinity of Petras, Siteia. These include a Prepalatial rock shelter and several house tombs. Among the most significant finds are the seals, datable to the Prepalatial and Protopalatial periods. The earliest include several cylinders made from hippopotamus ivory. Hitherto, few seals certainly of this date and material have been discovered further east than Mochlos, and none from secure contexts. Also found were seals of bone and steatite, which are datable to MM I and MM II in Central Cretan terms. Pride of place at Petras are the MM II seals made of hard semi-precious stones – agate, carnelian, blue chalcedony and jasper – some of which bear inscriptions in Cretan hieroglyphic. Shapes represented are Petschafte (loop signets), a rectangular bar, three-sided and four-sided prisms. The association of prisms – whether made of steatite or hard stone – with eastern Crete has long been recognized. However, hitherto virtually all extant hard stone prisms have been stray finds, and none has been discovered in a context likely to be more or less contemporary with manufacture date. The new seals from Petras are of exceptionally high quality – matching if not exceeding the very finest hitherto known. Thus they help to reinforce earlier observations regarding the role of Petras as an emerging regional centre in the Protopalatial period.

For online access, click here.

Crowley, Janice L. 2013. The Iconography of Aegean Seals. Aegaeum 34. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

About: The Iconography of Aegean Seals is a detailed analysis of the iconography of the images on the Aegean seals, signets and sealings, providing for the first time a comprehensive structured overview of these images and a presentation of the artistic rules governing the composition of their designs. The Icon Theory of Aegean glyptic art which encompasses all aspects of the complex iconography and the IconAegean standard vocabulary which reflects the visual language of the seal designs together give the reader a framework for discussion and study that has long been called for by researchers. In this book the reader is taken deep into the seal designs and asked to ponder anew the images in these miniature masterpieces that were of such importance to their Aegean owners. The exposition of the work of the icon in creating memorable seal designs is cogently argued through seal examples. The presentation of the terms of the standard vocabulary in an illustrated dictionary format makes the detail of the seal designs accessible as never before. The copiously illustrated closing discussion on design revises some of the old nomenclature, identifies new motifs and elucidates relationships between image groupings. This book takes a fresh view of the glyptic material, one that may surprise, but one that certainly provides new insights into the subtle, sophisticated and polyvalent iconography of the seal designs.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Hallager, Erik  – Eleni Papadopoulou – Iris Tzachili. 2011. VRY S (4/4) 01 - The first hieroglyphic inscription from western Crete. Kadmos 50, 63–74.

For online access, click here.



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